16 July, 2024


From Individual Atom To God Almighty

By Michael Roberts

Dr. Michael Roberts

With the growth of Western civilization from the 16th century onwards and its sweeping sway in the world today, we have seen the power vested in the individual atom known as “man” in its non-gendered sense. Individuation, and its blood-brother, egoism, is the warp and woof of everyday living in most parts of the world and is most pronounced in the states identified with the “West.”

It is imprinted and glorified in many sports competitions: say, surfing, marathon-running, motor-cycling, gymnastics, et cetera. Its imprint has been expanded by new technology such as skateboards and fancy bikes. There are also age-old sports which sustain the emphasis on intense individual action: for instance, fishing and hunting.

In some nations, as we know, the rifle and revolver hold a hallowed place as an essential instrument of one’s lifeworld for a significant proportion of the population. This holds true for many parts of USA and Canada, while Australia hosts a political party known as the Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party. It is perhaps no coincidence that the expressions of “White racism” emanate most strongly from within such entities.

Brenton Tarrant, the mass murderer at Christchurch in March 2019, is clearly one such White racist – alas one who has been under the radar of security networks.[1] But he is clearly an individual proficient in the use of modern video technology to advertise Self and Cause. In targeting mosques and persons of the Islamic faith, he has also set himself up as a forceful answer to the spate of extremist Islamic attacks in many parts of Western Europe in recent years — with, say, the bomb placed by Salman Abedi at the Ariana Grande concert at Manchester on 22nd April 2017 serving as our illustration.[2] We are only too aware that extremists at one end of the pole promote extremists at the other end – just visit Sri Lankan history over the last seventy years for proof.

So: we now have fanatical extremists at opposite ends of the divide setting Islam vs the Christian West. In numerical terms they may be few — but they are deadly given their access to guns, video, tweets and other social media.

Where the Atom becomes God Almighty

In pursuing their causes these extremists have assumed the position of God Almighty, namely, exercising the power to take lives. Before we get trapped in the study of extremist causes, however, we must pause and turn our gaze on the recent instances of mass killings without a specific cause. Take the instance of the 64-year old Stephen Paddock who took a range of automatic weapons into his suite at a Las Vegas hotel and on 1st October 2017 fired systematically at a crowd of country music fans in the plaza below, killing 58 and wounding another 400 or so. The fans included Hispanics, Blacks, and Whites – Americans all. Paddock had no political cause. He seems to have been an embittered man. He became a killing God, denying life to unidentified others – assisted, of course, by the resources enabled by USA’s gun culture. Just look at the armaments spread across his room.

It is too easy to point one’s fingers at those immersed in the world of guns and sporting pastimes dependent on guns. I pause here to remind myself – and thereby all readers – of my life world as a young boy and teenager in the age bracket 10-16 in the town of Galle. Neither my household or that of my middle-class friends in the suburb known as “The Fort” owned guns. But as youngsters we played cowboys and crooks, watched cowboy films and war movies. For my part I poured over the tales and pictures of World War Two in the London illustrated News stocked at St. Aloysius College Library. I read war stories such as those focused on “Biggles.” I watched many war films, with Audie Murphy in his roles as a GI serving as my favourite fare.

So, I was intensely engaged in a vicarious form of make-believe gun culture.

The question, then, is this: did that make-believe world ingrain a capacity to take another life in pursuit of a good cause? That is, did it insinuate a capacity to play God? My firm answer is “Yes.”


The caution introduced by this biographical interlude should enter our reflections on the interplay between egoism, individuation, gun culture and extremist political projects, whether White racist, Islamic or nationalist. The Las Vegas Case is a salutary warning in this regard. One can play God and deny life to many just because you are furious with self and world …. And have access to the wherewithal of mass death.

The Treadmill as Engine of Self-Absorption

In highlighting activities that have generated and sustained egoism and individuation, let me add the related concept of “self-absorption.” While this is implicated in several of the sporting activities that I have marked above, it is also encouraged by (A) the worldwide participation in selfies promoted by modern phone and photographic technology; and (B) the expansion of gyms in towns, cruise ships and hotels – gyms that sustain pursuits of physical  fitness through such ‘gadgets’ as treadmills.

Reflect awhile on the treadmill — with an individual as often as not wearing earphones playing music and stepping forth purposefully in the work of sustaining his or her body. What dedication! What commitment to sustained boredom! What commitment to self! Having committed myself to such a task on the odd occasion (usually on ship or river cruises (when I had nought to do and no tennis court nearby), I cannot think of a more boring and more self-absorbing activity.

So: do these strands of activity and interaction in the modern world contribute to the deepening of individuation to the extreme point which leads X or Y to play God – eliminating enemy entities in the manner Tarrant and the manner Salman Abedi, or just anyone in the manner Paddock?


ABC 2009 “Sri Lankans ‘petrified’ after Sydney acid attack,” http://www.abc.net.au/news/2009-05-18/sri-lankans-petrified-after-sydney-acid-attack/1686912.

Adelaide Now News Limited Network 2013 “Boston Marathon bombings bear marks of ‘lone wolf’, says expert,” 17 April 2013, http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/world/boston-marathon-bombs-made-from-pressure-cookers-packed-with-ball-bearings-stashed-in-black-nylon-backpacks/story-fnd11ay0-1226622132249

Drummond, Andrew 2009 “Man charged over acid attack,” http://news.smh.com.au/breaking-news-national/man-charged-over-acid-attack-in-sydney-20090701

Ferdinando, Shamindra & Others 2008 “Tigers break promise, attack sports event,” http://www.island.lk/2008/04/07/news.html

Ferdinando, Shamindra 2013 “Jeyaraj’s widow compares Weliweriya blast with Boston attack,” The Island, 16 April 2013.

Maley, Paul 2013 “Stamp of lone wolf more than al-Qa’ida” The Australian, 17 May 2013.

Maley, Paul & Chip Le Gande 2017 “Police to zero in on lone wolf ‘obsessives’,” 23 December 2017, https://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/national-security/police-to-zero-in-on-lone-wolf-obsessives/news-story/c44a902a4dead0794dd8baf810717431

Ramachandran, Arjun 2009 “Acid Attack: Attempted Murder Charge,” http://www.smh.com.au/national/acid-attack-attempted-murder-charge-20090701-d4mz.html

Roberts, Michael 2011 “Cricket under Siege: the Lahore Attack, 3 March 2009,” in Roberts, Incursions & Excursions in and around Sri Lankan Cricket, Colombo: Vijitha Yapa Publications, pp. 139-63.

Sky News 2018 “Manchester Attacker Salman Abedi’s Journey from Student to Suicide Bomber,”31 July 2018, https://news.sky.com/story/manchester-attacker-salman-abedis-journey-from-student-to-suicide-bomber-11455107

Sri-Skandarajah, Usha S. 2013Bikkhu Brigade, Dr Roberts And The Tamil Spring,” 6 April 2013, https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/bikkhu-brigade-dr-roberts-and-the-tamil-spring/

Stewart, Cameron 2013 “Terror returns to America’s heart after deadly Boston bombings,” The Australian, 17 April 2013, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/in-depth/boston-bombings/terror-returns-to-americas-heart-after-deadly-boston-bombings/story-fni3117f-1226622063564


[1] The widespread criticism of security agencies seems ill-advised. They cannot keep tabs on every which person.

[2] See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manchester_Arena_bombing and


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Latest comments

  • 1

    It is now established and defined the “ATOM” as nothing but “ENERGY”. This “Energy” is said to be the “PROPELLER” of all living beings to “ACTION”. That “Action” determines, the “NATURE” or the “QUALITY” and “QUANTITY” of each and every individual who performs or demonstrates his/her “energy”. So, in this “ACTION PLAN” , the individual who is “Propelled” by “Energy” generated within has to make choices that are in very many instances based on “SELF” – that “Protects”; “Egoistic”; “Destructive” etc. or conversely “Sacrificial”; “Beneficial”; “Virtual” etc. In all these “Action Plans”, whether “Beneficial” or “Destructive” , the determination is based on the “QUALITY” (Good or Bad) of the individual. This is where so many factors, such as education; upbringing; environment ; economic; social , play a major role in determining the “Direction”. So, we see here the complications that set in the ground for man’s actions, whether good or bad. It in this “environment” , the political, social, economic, religious set ups have to function to guide and assist the individual to function to the best of his/her ability for the welfare of all living forms. The question yet to be answered is: Have we succeeded or how far have we gone in achievements?

  • 7

    Isn’t it Poetic justice that White Xtians and Wahabi Muslims are fighting against each other?

    When I say White Xtian and Wahabi Muslims I mean extremists of both sides given that non-white Xtians usually do not beleive in the destruction of others and there are a very few good Muslims as well.

    These two warring parties killing each other is a classic instance of Karma. Never have there been two uncivilized, savageous people to walk the earth than these two.

    They have utter disregard to other human beings. They are ecologically unsustainable to the planet and they are a curse to mankind.

    • 5

      “Isn’t it Poetic justice that White Xtians and Wahabi Muslims are fighting against each other?” ….”These two warring parties killing each other is a classic instance of Karma”
      Xtians and Wahabis don’t fight or kill each other. They both kill the innocents on some stupid ideology. Not Karma, rather sin, a terrorist act.

      • 3

        STFU and go make us a Buriyani Mr Buhari.

        • 3

          Are you fed up of Dosa? You of course deserve Buriyani, but will it digest at your present body and mental condition?

    • 1

      These two warring parties killing each other is a classic instance of Karma.

      What about nepal mao group are they not killing. and myanmar
      and JVP killing rough estimates suggest that between 8,000 – 10,000 people died during April of 1971.

  • 2

    By Saying Nationalism, Michael Roberts explained his own Mentality or war going in within him. He should belong to some nation. Unfortunately, Xtians believe they need their own prominence, not a Nitch group and can not part of the group and Almighty’s people are not used to it. . That is the mentality of those who believe in Almighty what ever the leading group he belongs to. when not they are sad, arrogant and need to get it. Because almighty can overcome anyone and anything. LAs Vegas is not about Almighty. It is about the Green Back. Just after Newzealand incident, there was another in Denmark. At least one Politician, may be Senator, justified it saying the shooting makes sense. but, shooting was carried out by an australian who bought guns via the internet and moved to NEw Zealand. It looks his goal was to gun down Bangladeshi – cricketers visited NEwzeland for games. Those Cricketers were supposed to be preaching in one of those mosques. Unfortunately, some Bangla deshi visitors who came with those Cricketers, I think six, died. that is typical Xtian culture. If they went some where those days they killed as many as they could. Now, if some one comes, they kill. Unfortunately their own Human rights prohibit
    The fact Michael Roberts did not acknowledge here, It is a white -Australian who did that. that is understandable when they are the progeny of Prisoners and when we understand what they do and did to Australian Aborginies..
    Yesterday, ‘I heard, Ruwandan Hutu- Tutsi genocide was instigated by Belgium (Probably you know) and France and another country from International community was watching until the Slaughter is over. Probably, there were watching whether another country would step in.
    So, lot of talk but no work.

  • 2

    Christchurch is only the beginning for Muslims trying to spread Islam to the rest of the world, first by coaxing and then by force. Muhammed’s Islam after he fell asleep in a cave where a group who went in search of God is supposed to have written the Quran in 23 years. Blind belief of man without evaluating the truth, is truly amazing and annoying to many who don’t believe. Nothing lost let, them have it out. The white supremacists spread Christianity then and the Muslims are continuing to spread Islam today. The white supremacists have relaxed today but the Islamists are having a tyrannical hold on all the Muslims not allowing any to think rationally or leave the fold. They believe and think the whole world will become Muslims in the future and believe in Islam.

    • 1

      gamini – I read a few times, still doesn’t make any sense. What are you trying to say bro?

      • 0

        GHK with your low IQ, it is natural that you cannot make any sense. How can a person who believes that the earth is flat have a high IQ. What he is trying to say is that you give up believing the Koran which is full of fallacies and embrace sanity like others.

    • 0

      Are you getting paid to write thrash? or your head needs to be examined

      • 0

        Sarrij you are getting agitated when someone expresses the truth. Give up your dream of creating an Islamic world by killing non Muslims. If you do not stop your nonsense, very soon others are going to witness several attacks on Muslims not only in west but also in Russia, China and other tolerant societies.

  • 2

    The Michael Roberts’ article has examples of human individual on a killing spree of fellow humans.
    Will someone enlighten us as to contents and the title ~ “From Individual Atom To God Almighty”.
    What, for the life of me, is the relevance of most of the references?

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